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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Presidential Losers #32: Al Smith

I don't care who knows it, I just love Al Smith.  Just look at him.  As soon as you see him, you just know he's going to have a name like Al Smith.  

Poor Al really never had a chance in the election of '28.  America had been just had two consecutive Republican administrations, and it seemed the more you voted Republican, the fatter and happier you got, and so Hoover was pretty much a shoo-in.  No one could imagine what could possibly go wrong.  (Did I mention the year was 1928?)  

Al's other problem was that he was a lamb to the slaughter Catholic which definitely meant that if elected, he'd be taking orders directly from the Pope.  And you know what that would mean.  Democrats tried to counter the anti-Catholic bigotry by claiming Hoover had once danced with a black woman.  (Hoover denied this and no one gave the story much credence; try to imagine Herbert Hoover dancing with anyone.)  

Another strike against Al Smith was that he opposed Prohibition, which was a marvelous success no matter how you looked at it.  Prohibition enjoyed support across a wide political spectrum from women's political groups, Protestant fundamentalists, and Italian Americans, especially in the Chicago area.  Smith never had a prayer.1



Result

Herbert Hoover: 444
Al Smith: 87

1. The story goes that after the election, Smith sent a one-word telegram to Pope Pius: "Unpack."

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