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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14, Presidential Losers: Adlai Stevenson

Adlai Stevenson, 1956

Yep, in spite of having his butt whipped by Eisenhower the first go-round, Stevenson came back for another butt-whipping four years later.  For such a smart guy, Stevenson wasn't very bright.  Eisenhower had gotten us (mostly) out of the mess of the Korean war, declaring it a tie.  He sent 900 military advisors to help out some little country no one had ever heard of called South Vietnam where the French army had mucked things up as per usual.  But the North Vietnamese, or whatever they called themselves, were a dipsquat insurgency, and we could be sure we'd never have any serious trouble out of them.  So all in all, the Eisenhower presidency suited everyone just fine, and Stevenson had as much chance as Frosty the Snowman on vacation in Havana.  The most interesting side-show of the election revolved around Ike's VP and future presidential loser, Richard Nixon.  Nixon had been accused of mishandling campaign funds and pressure was mounting in the Republican party to drop him from the ticket.  His political survival on the line, Nixon gave a televised address which deserves to go down in history alongside Antony's funeral oration for Caesar as one of the most brilliant and effective examples of rhetoric ever written.  With a masterful blend of class envy, self-pity, and counter-attack, Nixon completely turned the tables on his political opponents.  At the end of his speech, he confessed to having received a campaign gift he would never return - a black-and-white dog named "Checkers," which his daughter loved.  By this point, tears were rolling down the cameraman's cheeks.  And Eisenhower, watching from the White House, knew he could never dump Nixon from the ticket.


Dwight Eisenhower: 457
Adlai Stevenson: 73

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