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Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, Presidential Losers: James Cox

James Cox, 1920


The two presumptive front-runners, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, both suffered collapses of health, and the race was between relative unknowns Warren Harding and James Cox.  Somehow I'd heard that a decisive factor in the 1920 election was women's sufferage, and that the vote had gone to Warren Harding because of his tremendous sex appeal.  I've looked at Harding's picture, and all I can say is, Whoa!  Maybe you had to see him with his shirt off.  He was studlier-looking than Cox, I'll give him that, but that's not saying much.  After the Great War, people were pretty much sick of Democrats, and responded to Harding's call for a return to "normalcy." (No one called for a return to normalcy of English usage.)  The election was less about Harding vs Cox, than a referendum on Wilson.  Wilson blamed German-Americans and Irish-Americans for rejection of the League of Nations, saying, "anyone  who carries a hyphen with him, carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready."  (Thank goodness we don't have any hyphenated Americans these days.)  These remarks did little to win the love of German- and Irish-Americans, and moreover word was beginning to get out that the last years of the Wilson administration, the executive branch had effectively been under the control of the first lady.  No one seems to have asked Cox where he stood on the issue of  a major cover-up a president's physical disability.  Cox's running mate was Franklin Roosevelt.  Democrats took the high road during the campaign, insinuating that Harding had "negro blood," but voters ignored this pertinent issue.  They were tired of warfare and international relations and ready to get down to the real business of American government: kickbacks, influence-peddling, and graft.

Result

Warren Harding: 404
James Cox: 127

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