George Santayana, was a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, and is attributed with saying, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Others, including John F. Kennedy, have used this quote on occasion.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
Apparently it is a little known quote in the Hillary Clinton campaign. Equally apparent is their lack of an appreciation of history. Granted Mrs. Clinton was barely one year old when this event took place; but even so, one would think she’d know about it and not repeat this mistake.
The mistake? Assuming that you’re the heir-apparent and a shoe-in for the presidency. In 1948, this mistake was committed by Thomas Dewey. While I have written about this before, it bears updating. Thomas Dewey, a popular governor of New York, had run for president in 1944 against Franklin Roosevelt and lost. In 1948, he came bounding back, this time against Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s Vice-President who had succeeded to the presidency upon FDR’s death. Dewey was confident and had reason to be so. Truman was unpopular. The country was ripe for party change—the democrats had been in power for 12 years. Perhaps the country had enough of democrats and wanted a new vision for the country. All that seems highly plausible. So, Dewey campaigned as if the presidency were already his. He figured, as did most pundits, that he was going to win and perhaps even win big.
Not so fast, Mr. Dewey. In what is considered one of the major upsets in political history, Truman came roaring back and won by about 3 million votes with an edge of 105 in the electoral vote count. So sure was Dewey and the pundits that the Chicago Daily Tribune even printed newspapers with the headline, Dewey Defeats Truman. Of course Harry Truman had a good laugh at that one!
It’s not too difficult to see the parallels to 2016. Hillary Clinton, the darling of the press, the heir-apparent, the “most experienced candidate ever1,” is running a campaign not unlike the one Dewey ran in 1948. While the upstart, Donald Trump is all over the map—including Mexico—Hillary largely remains out of the public eye, having not answered a reporter’s question since August 16th—that’s a long time in presidential politics. Like Truman, Trump is unpopular and like Truman, speaks his mind—Truman was a bit more refined, but who knows what he might have done with a Twitter account! While NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and others already have the headline Clinton Defeats Trump printed in their minds, other, perhaps wiser, pundits are keeping their ink wet.
1 according to Barak Obama—seemingly he has forgotten about his predecessors, most of whom were more qualified than Hillary, or he for that matter.