The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, May 29, 2004

Remembering the man with a hole in his shoe

John Kerry is trying to secure the top job by making as slight an impression on the voters as possible, it sometimes seems. The tactical sense of that has, of course, been debated into the ground.

Which put me in mind of another guy who made no impression, Adlai Stevenson. The man who brought to an end twenty years of Democratic tenancy of the White House: from president for life to two-time failure in three candidates!

This page helpfully explains the reference, with illustration:
Photographer William M. Gallagher won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for this photograph of Stevenson on the campaign trail in 1952. The image of the "Man with a Hole in his Shoe" remained with Stevenson and served as a symbol of his efforts during the 1956 presidential campaign.

The vice presidential slot in '52 was filled - No niggers need apply - by John Sparkman of Alabama: ah, the real Democratic Party!

(I have a book, The Uses of Power: 7 Cases in American Politics, which has a chapter on the 1952 Democratic Convention. I'll try to give it a squint and see what it says.)

This was the year that Lion of the South, Richard Russell, took it into his head that he could get himself to the head of the ticket. By then, almost twenty years in the Senate and risen to the rank of Eminence Grise, and still with the sense of a five year old when it came to national politics.

(As described in Robert Caro's Master of the Senate, Russell's protégé, Lyndon Johnson, had a similar rush of blood to the head in 1956.)

The relationship between Stevenson, the Mr Clean of Illinois politics, and the Cook County machine, is, I suspect, an interesting story. Kelly-Nash must have been on the way out as he was on the way in - some actual facts would be helpful here, I fancy...

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