The Fifties

Halberstam, David

Villard, 1993

pp. 6, 8

In 1948, President Harry Truman’s opponent was Thomas Dewey, a man then Republicans were confident could beat Truman. Wasn’t FDR finally dead? And wasn’t Truman, his replacement, really a small-town haberdasher and not a national leader? And wasn’t Dewey a “modern, reform-minded governor of New York?” But then there were Dewey’s minuses. In stature he was even smaller than Truman. As one observer put it, he looked like “the little man on the wedding cake.” Even so, “he was unbending and self-righteous.” Somebody said “he struts sitting down.” And then there was the problem of his stump speech. His strategy was safety: he would offend nobody. And so, time after time, Dewey would give his speech. According to the Louisville Courier Journal his stump speech consisted largely of “these historic four sentences: Agriculture is important. Our rivers are full of fish. You cannot have freedom without liberty. The future lies ahead . . .”