Saturday, September 6, 2008

Birds of a Feather?

An interesting historical parallel noted by The Weekly Standard. It compares the Vice-Presidential nominee to another candidate coping with a matter potentially more damaging than a teenage daughter's pregnancy:

As every schoolboy knows, Grover Cleveland was the Democratic candidate for president in 1884, and in the course of the campaign, a Republican newspaper reported that Cleveland (who was not married) had once fathered a child. Naturally, his campaign was caught flat-footed by the story, but Governor Cleveland wired some famous instructions to his staff: “Whatever you say, tell the truth.”

The truth was that Cleveland had once formed an “illicit connection” with a widow named Maria Halpin, and a baby had been born. The evidence was not conclusive that Cleveland was the father, but he had assumed responsibility for the child and refused to dissemble about the matter when running for president. Americans were impressed. Holier-than-thou Republicans were made to look silly, Cleveland came across as brave and honorable, and he won the election.

Cleveland, by the way, had been just another lawyer in Buffalo when he became the “Veto Mayor” in 1882, cleaning up political graft, and was elected the reform governor of New York later that year, taking on the powers within his own political party. Sound familiar? On election night 1884 his supporters gathered at polling places and sang the following tune:

Hurrah for Maria,
Hurrah for the kid;
We voted for Grover,
And we’re damned glad we did!

Will history repeat itself, in 2008?

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