Oh, no, not the Harry Truman syndrome.
Two words about that: Too soon.
Political wonks are well aware of the Harry Truman syndrome. It has been used by Democratic candidates for president over the years who were losing to their Republican opponents. The Dems would try to convince their base, and themselves, that a Truman-sized upset victory was in the making.
See, “Give ‘em hell, Harry” was so far behind in the polls to Republican Thomas Dewey in 1948 that pollsters stopped taking polls well before election day, Turned out it was the foregone conclusion that wasn’t. Even the Chicago Tribune put its newspaper to bed too early election night with the doh! headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
Needless to say, ol’ Harry had some fun with that, including posing for that now iconic photo holding up the newspaper with a cat that got the canary grin on his face.
Nothing like that has happened before or since. And it never will.
The Dems trailing to the GOP candidates who invoked this form of Trumanism ended up losing. Sometimes in a landslide.
Any Dem candidate predicting a Truman-like upset victory is conceding the election even before one vote is cast.
Truman won because his opponent, Mr. Dewey, was arrogant and over-confident. He believed his own press clippings. Couldn’t blame him, the news media of the day not only believed it, they encouraged him.
But give some props to ol’ Harry. He took his case to the people via those famous whistlestop tours. He was the proverbial tortoise who inched along while Dewey was the over-confident hare who figured he had the race won with just one sprint left. But first, a little nap.
Today’s Democrats are encouraging President Obama to go the Truman route by taking his American Jobs Act on the road. It’s not too late. If anything, it’s a little early.
Truman ran against the “do nothing Congress” and Obama has at least that much going for him.
Obama’s nickname as a youth was Barry, for those who didn’t like the name Barack. Hey, he could use “Give ‘em hell, Barry!”
Doesn’t have the same punch. Needs work. More time to sink into the American psyche.
Right now the American psyche is being deluged by psychos, so what could it hurt?
The prez could try and channel Truman all he wants, but Americans have seen that show before and may have already decided to tune in to watch and listen to what else is out there.
With all the violent and angry rhetoric in the campaign so far —- people applauding the number of executions in Texas under Gov. Rick Perry, or applauding and yelling “let him die” when a hypothetical question was raised about a person who needed health care in a life or death situation —- Obama may be choosing the wrong Harry to channel.
He might have to consider Dirty Harry.
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